More than 100 people packed the San Luis Obispo County Government Center's hearing chambers in San Luis Obispo on Thursday to oppose plans to establish a commercial composting facility on Orcutt Road adjacent to San Luis Obispo.
After nearly five hours of testimony, the county Planning Commission continued the hearing to March 27 without making any decision. The commissioners told county planning staff that they wanted additional information on issues including traffic, odors, noise, dust and water quality.
Dozens of speakers told the commission they oppose the project because it is too close to residential neighborhoods.
“Why would you want our little neighborhood to be responsible for providing composting for the entire county?” asked Harry Corbett, a Hansen Lane resident who would be one of the closest neighbors to the project.
The Bunyon Brothers/Perozzi green waste management project calls for taking wood chips and other green waste and mixing it with horse manure to make composting material that would be sold commercially. The composting activity would take place on two 4-acre areas on a ranch on Orcutt Road near The Arbors subdivision.
The March 27 hearing will be an opportunity for the commission to take more input from the public and ask additional questions. Further delays in making a final decision are possible, particularly if more studies are required, commissioners said.
Many of the commissioners’ requests for more information focused on traffic and how future growth in the area will affect traffic patterns. Commissioner Jim Irving said he wanted more information about truck traffic patterns on Tank Farm and Orcutt roads.
Phil Dunsmore, a planner with the city of San Luis Obispo, said the city has approved the development of hundreds of new homes in the Orcutt area, and construction of those homes could begin within the next two to three years. Commissioners said traffic studies for the composting facility needed to take that growth into consideration.
Many speakers asked that the project be denied and moved to a more remote area.
Traffic was a prime concern, but many neighbors said they are also worried about odors from the composting heaps wafting to their homes. Operators of the facility would be required to develop an odor management plan and take corrective action if complaints are received, but this did little to satisfy the neighbors.
“You can tell me all the baloney you want,” Arbors resident Walt Ross said. “It still stinks, and it’s too close to our homes.”